I must single out for a special mention Labour MP Barry Gardiner, because (based on the testimony of people I know who have worked with him) he is such a complete dork. Gardener made a profit of £200,000 on a Westminster flat renovated using payments which he then claimed as expenses - despite the fact his main home is only 8 miles from parliament.
It seems to me that we are in for a wave of anti-sleaze sentiment which will make the previous high-point of anti-sleaze, at the 1997 election, look positively tame. That election delivered Martin Bell to Westminster on an anti-corruption ticket. It is possible that next year's election could see dozens of anti-sleaze MPs elected. Next year could be the year when millions of citizens rise up and say they've had enough of MPs on the take.
For the most part, the MPs' attempts to defend themselves miss the point completely. "It was all within the rules", they say. Undoubtedly. But who made those rules? Parliament. The point is that the rules are so lax as to allow ludicrous expense claims that no-one in a job elsewhere (outside senior executives in the banking sector, perhaps) would be entitled to. Gordon Brown says that the system requires reform - which it does - but why hasn't anything been done in the last 11 years then? Aren't he and previous Prime Ministers guilty of negligence for allowing these crazy expense rules to exist for so long?
Certainly, MPs living too far away for a reasonable commute need accommodation in London. But why should they be able to make hundreds of thousands of pounds on accommodation which the taxpayer is paying for? If the taxpayer pays, the taxpayer should get the returns. Better still, MPs' offices could include proper overnight accommodation facilities - bedrooms, bathrooms, kitchens etc. The Houses of Parliament should really be like a big hotel.
I think the Telegraph has done us a great service by publishing all this stuff. I hope they make the complete list of expenses claims available for download and perusal at some point in the near future as it would be good to have a database where everyone could see exactly what their MP has been claiming. Let's have all this out in the open.